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Miscues costly for Boulders in Game 1 loss to Quebec

The Rockland Boulders fell to Quebec, 9-6, in Game 1 of their Can-Am League semifinal matchup.

Prior to Game 1 of the 2018 Can-Am League Playoff series against Quebec, Rockland Boulders Manager Jamie Keefe felt optimistic.

“It’s game time. We had 120 pre-season games to reach this point. We’ve been to the ballpark for 137 days. At the end of the day, your goal is to play extra baseball, and we have that opportunity tonight to play at least three of them. We’re excited to go out there. This year was trying and very difficult to get through, but we are at the point where it’s fun and we get to enjoy it.”

Keys to winning the series against Quebec: “You got to throw strikes, play good defense. We have to do those two things. We’re going to have to hit, put the ball in play and hit with runners in scoring position.”

“This series is going to come down who has the bigger innings. Both teams’ are going to have big innings. If we keep their big innings down to two or three, we will be okay. The team that makes more plays will win the series.”

For the first three innings of Game 1 at Palisades Credit Union Park on Wednesday, the Boulders followed Keefe’s blueprint. With runners in scoring position in the second inning with two outs, JC Rodriguez flicked an RBI single into shallow center field. That was followed by Reggie Wilson beating out a ground ball after Capitales second baseman TJ White botched the play allowing Conor Bierfeldt to come into score. Meanwhile, the defense turned a nifty double play in the third supporting starting pitcher David Palladino. Palladino cruised in the early going, including striking out three in the second.

However, all those positive vibes changed with one swing of the bat. Kalian Sams clubbed a mammoth two-run homer on to the concourse in left-center field. The wheels were set in motion after that.

With a runner on first, it seemed as though the inning would end after Maxx Tissebaum hit a ground ball hit to second base. Rylan Sandoval could not field the ball cleanly to continue the inning.

Quebec seized on the opportunity quickly as Brad Antchak drilled a single into left to drive in TJ White. After Palladino walked Adam Ehrlich to load up the bases, the floodgates opened up with Yordan Manduley hitting a routine ground ball to Cody Regis at third. Regis ended up throwing wide of the bag as two more runs came across. Palladino’s night was finished after 3 2/3 innings surrendering six runs, two earned, on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Down 7-3 in the sixth, Bierfeldt led off swatting a solo blast deep into left field bleachers. Once again the Capitales were able to score with runners on base and two outs. Nick Van Stratten stretched the advantage to 9-4 cranking a two-run single back up the middle into center field. The Boulders staged a late rally in the ninth tallying runs on a sac fly from Marcus Nidiffer and a two-out run-producing single by Regis. Facing closer Trevor Bayless with runners at second and third, Bierfeldt struck out to end the game. Rockland left ten men on base in the contest.

“I thought we needed to score six runs and probably could have had 8 or 10, but there’s nothing you can do about it. That is why you play five of them,” Keefe said. “Probably the worst game we have played in a month and it happens to be Game 1 of the playoffs. We have to win tomorrow and take two out of three up there.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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